A face new to Irvine Valley’s men’s basketball team donned the Lasers’ sidelines in Wednesday’s season-opener. To those familiar with Orange Empire Conference basketball, the face isn’t so new.
Andy Ground, previous assistant, then co-coach, at Saddleback College joined the ranks of IVC in the off-season as assistant coach to Irvine’s Jerry Hernandez.
“I left Saddleback to just have a change,” Ground said. “I’ve been friends with Coach Hernandez for over 20 years and he’s been trying to get me to help him for a number of years. I was just looking for a new opportunity.”
Ground spent eight years with Saddleback under head coach Bill Brummel, the last of which ended in the state’s final four. The Gauchos posted a 22-9 overall record in the 2006-2007 season and earned the title of co-conference champion.
According to Saddleback’s athletic department, Ground decided to leave right after the 2006-2007 season.
“He was looking at other jobs that included Fullerton College and IVC,” said sports information director Jerry Hannula.
With the Lasers finishing 16-14 (5-7) last season, Hernandez is excited about the new season with Ground on the bench.
“We’ve taken Andy’s experience and brought it over here and it’s been a big advantage for us,” Hernandez said. “Irvine Valley had a good recruiting year and when he decided to come over, he brought over a couple key players. It provided us a lot more depth and strength and we’ve changed some things. “
Specializing in defense by pressing and trapping, Ground brings the Lasers a new form of energy to the floor.
“He’s our mainly defense coach, so he brings all the energy and the defensive schemes,” said Lasers freshman guard Jeff Ledbetter. “He’s kind of the guy that gets in your face and makes you work hard, so if you don’t please him, you’re not going to be playing. He’s helped us a lot.”
Ground will face his old team from opposing sidelines for the first time Jan. 30 when IVC hosts Saddleback in the first round of conference action.
“He came over from Saddleback, so it’ll be an interesting game when we play them,” Ledbetter said.
Since Ground’s departing, Saddleback hired two assistant coaches, Nick Booker and Ralph Lawson. Brummel will start his 26th season as Gauchos head coach.